Raby Hunt's James Close: "A second Michelin Star puts us in the elite"

By Emma Eversham contact

- Last updated on GMT

James Close of Raby Hunt whose restaurant has now joined an elite list after gaining Two Michelin Stars
James Close of Raby Hunt whose restaurant has now joined an elite list after gaining Two Michelin Stars

Related tags: Michelin stars, Michelin guide

James Close, chef-owner of Darlington restaurant Raby Hunt says the awarding of a second Michelin Star is a dream come true and puts his small restaurant in an elite group in the UK. 

The 26-cover restaurant, which gained its first Michelin star in 2012, was the only one to receive a second Star in the 2017 edition of the Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland yesterday (3 October) and joins just 19 others with the same number. 

Close recounted how chefs with new Michelin Stars were ushered into a room at the event in London yesterday and then called one-by-one to receive their accolade.

"It was a very crazy day. We were the last ones left in the room and already had a Star, so I knew we had to be getting a second," he said. "It was the biggest award of the day [no new Three Star restaurants were announced] I was there with my mum and dad and we were just so happy.

"To get two Michelin Stars puts you in a category that's the elite. The Raby Hunt is a small restaurant in the North East, but it shows what you can do if you put your mind to it." 


Close, who has not yet returned to the restaurant following celebrations in London, said he'd seen that online reservations had already 'gone crazy'. 

"Reservations are flooding in and it's already having a massive impact," he said. 

While Close doesn't plan to increase the number of covers at his restaurant, he says the second Star will enable him to develop the business. 

"It means we may be able to make the kitchen bigger and add a chef's table to the kitchen," he said. "I've been thinking about adding a walled garden and allowing chefs more time to develop dishes, which we'll be able to do now." 

Michelin Guide 2017

Eighteen restaurants were awarded One Star​, including The Ritz and London's oldest Indian restaurant Veeraswamy, in the 2017 edition of the guide, while The Fat Duck regained its three Michelin Stars. 

Speaking about retaining his restaurant's Two Michelin Stars, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal executive chef Ashley Palmer-Watts said: "In terms of all accolades, it's important to remember they come on the back of hard work done by all. They come on the back of work you do at the table, the food that's eaten and wine that's drunk as well as the service. Awards like a Michelin Star are really gratifying for every single member in the team, but you still have to keep focused on what's happening at the table." 

Sixteen restaurants lost their Stars​, mostly due to change of chef. 

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